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Annual Water Quality Monitoring Plan

Monitoring Year 2019

2019 Water Quality Monitoring Plan (PDF)   2019 Water Quality Monitoring Plan (XLSX)

Map Link to the 2019 Water Quality MonPlan


Every year the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Water Division makes available to the public its annual monitoring plan (MonPlan). The MonPlan summarizes the water quality monitoring activities conducted during each calendar year, from 1 January to 31 December. The MonPlan is developed for the purpose of implementing the goals and objectives of DEQ’s 2013 Water Quality Monitoring Strategy. This water quality information is presented in compliance with the Virginia Water Quality Monitoring, Information, and Restoration Act (§ 62.1-44.19:5.) to help ensure public awareness of water quality issues and conditions.

The MonPlan contains detailed information on DEQ’s monitoring activities including the station locations, specific conditions, frequency of monitoring and costs. A station list by county identifies the specific sample site of each station including important data helpful when using U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps or state watershed boundary maps.

An interactive map of the stations is available at our What’s in My Backyard application. Clicking on an individual station icon produces a popup window of data that lists the Station ID, location information, the program for which the station was sited and the parameters to be measured.

These monitoring planning summaries are utilized by the DEQ central office staff to calculate estimates for laboratory analysis costs for the coming year and to evaluate the standardization of statewide monitoring efforts (site selection, parameter selection, frequency of sampling, etc.). They also provide a convenient source from which to extract descriptive summaries of specific regional, intra-regional and statewide programs on the basis of station locations, parameters sampled, frequencies sampled and the total laboratory costs associated with each.

Several noteworthy special study programs occurring this year are worth mentioning.

Clinch River

Investigation of stream concentrations of total and dissolved trace metals, major anions and cations, and suspended and dissolved solids in the mainstem Clinch River between Norris Lake, Tennessee and Nash Ford, Virginia. Recent assessments of freshwater mussels in portions of the mainstem Clinch River Virginia, USA, indicate impacted assemblages; those containing lower population densities, lower species richness and lack of age class distribution that is characteristic of successful reproduction. These impacted sections of the Clinch River are found beginning from the confluence of Stock Creek at Clinchport (RKM 343.3; RM 213.3) to Lick Creek near St. Paul (RKM 411.5; RM 255.7). Water Monitoring Strategies to Inform Imperiled Species Conservation and Management in the Clinch River, Virginia and Tennessee a White Paper prepared by: Clinch-Powell Clean Rivers’ Initiative (CPCRI) Science Team August 25, 2014. In order to better identify the inorganic, ionic, and trace elemental constituents present in the water column throughout the impacted zone sampling and analyses using clean techniques will occur at eight sites along the mainstem Clinch River and one on the Guest River. Three stations downstream of the impacted reach in Tennessee and two upstream of the impacted reach will serve as reference condition sites. Three stations will be distributed in the impacted reach. One ambient long term station on the Guest River, a tributary to the Clinch in the impacted zone, will also be sampled as part of this study.


The Ambient Groundwater Characterization Program is collecting data on chloride concentrations in the Virginia Coastal Plain aquifers. This data is collected at trend stations (repeated wells) and spot samples to better define chloride concentrations throughout the coastal plain, as well as to assess temporal changes (increases in salinity) as a result of increasing groundwater withdrawals. The ambient program also collected dissolved methane samples from different coastal plain aquifers above the Taylorsville Basin. The buried Mesozoic basin is known to contain natural gas reserves. The ambient program is forming baseline data on water quality over the basin prior to any commercial recovery or enhanced recovery of the natural gas. Low-level detections of naturally occurring dissolved methane have been found across the basin in multiple aquifers. Repeat sampling has provided confirmation of the positive detections.

South River Mercury

Mercury was used in a manufacturing process at the DuPont plant in Waynesboro, VA from 1929-1950. Mercury losses to the environment resulted in a legacy problem that impacted over 125 miles of rivers and continues today. In a 1984 settlement between DuPont and the State Water Control Board, a fund was established to support monitoring of water, sediments, and fish tissue in the river system for a projected 100-year period. DEQ manages this fund and conducts the long-term monitoring program. Sampling frequencies for water, fish, and river sediments are bi-monthly, every 5 years, and every 10 years, respectively.  Water and sediments were sampled in 2018.

The water component of the mercury monitoring program focuses on concentrations of dissolved and total mercury in the South River and South Fork Shenandoah River. Monitoring through the 1990s rarely identified measurable amounts of mercury in water, due to analytical limitations. With the development of more sensitive laboratory and field procedures ("clean" metals sampling and analyses), quantifiable levels in river water are now routinely measured (in parts per trillion). DEQ staff in the Valley Regional Office collected total and dissolved mercury samples from multiple sites on the South River and South Fork Shenandoah River every other month in 2018.

Findings from 2012 for mercury in edible fish tissue were consistent with previous years, and no changes were made to the VDH mercury fish consumption advisories for the South River and the South Fork Shenandoah River. 2017 fish tissue data is still being reviewed and has not been released to the public, however trends appear to be consistent with previous years.

Mercury in river sediments has remained fairly stable over time. Sampling of river sediments was postponed from 2017 to 2018. When the 2018 data are available they will be compared to data from 2007 sediment surveys.


Filamentous green algae methods were selected in 2016 with a 3-stage approach. Sampling of algae within the Shenandoah River basin along 5 segments was scheduled for 2018 on a biweekly basis from June to October, with the possibility of additional segments depending on resource availability. DEQ’s target for 2018 was to conduct more sampling and continue sampling method development to determine site visit frequency, selection of nuisance threshold, and applicability in non-wadeable rivers. This study will continue in 2019 with minimum support.

Monitoring Plan Contents

Page 1 of the MonPlan provides a point of contact who is knowledgeable in detailed aspects of the various components of DEQ’s water monitoring program and will assist in answering questions.

Pages 2 through 4 contain a summary of the number of stations and the associated analytical cost by monitoring program. The analytical costs are divided between those covered by inter-agency fund transfers to the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services and other funds available to DEQ for services by either DCLS or other contract labs.

Pages 5 through 49 provide a reference list of all stations by county including geographic metadata.

Pages 50 through 190 contain the stations and associated individual program sample projects by DEQ regional office.

Pages 191 through 197 summarize individual special studies associated with specific monitoring activities. Special Study numbers 00001 and 00002 are used for routine ambient monitoring. Copies of Special Study Quality Assurance Project Plans are available by request, Roger E. Stewart 804-698-4449,

Pages 198 through 207 identify the Laboratory Catalog of parameter group codes, the individual target analysis and associated STORET (STOrage and RETrieval) parameter codes that are to be collected by DEQ over the course of the monitoring year. These codes are used to identify the specific parameters collected in each of the monitoring programs.

Pages 208 through 213 provide a cross reference to the station metadata by identifying the Level 1 through Level 5 codes used to categorize the type of station.

Page 214 displays a chart of the FI, IR, PC, and QA 6 year running averages.

A description of the individual program codes follows:

ALGAE AL - Filamentous algae collection to assist in the development of monitoring protocols.

WATERSHED AW - The ambient watershed network of stations represents the largest single section of the monitoring program. AW stations are those that are sampled within a major river basin every other month for two years and then rotated to a new set of stations in another basin the following two years, thus completing a statewide cycle in six years. Detailed information on the purpose and objectives of these stations and their selection can be found in Section III.B. of the strategy.

BAY NON TIDAL PROGRAM BN - The Chesapeake Bay non tidal network is identified in section III.E.1. of the strategy. The design of this program is through the U.S. EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office and encompasses a multi-state water quality characterization effort. These stations were added several years ago to expand water monitoring in the Chesapeake Bay tributaries beyond just the tidal sections, and are important for characterizing headwater areas and tracking progress toward nutrient and sediment load reductions under the Chesapeake Bay cleanup program.

COASTAL PROBABILISTIC PROGRAM C2 - The National Coastal Condition Assessment is the federal and state jointly funded tidal probabilistic program designed by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and sampled by Virginia DEQ staff.

CHESAPEAKE BAY CB - The Chesapeake Bay Program is identified in section III.E.1. of the strategy. The design of this program is through the U.S. EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office and encompasses a multi-state water quality characterization effort, covering the extensive tidal portions of Virginia’s Bay’s tributaries, mainstem, small creeks and embayments.

CITIZEN MONITORING CM - Citizen monitoring are those stations in segments identified through public participation as targeted for specific monitoring. Public notification for requests from citizens to DEQ to include water quality monitoring is usually a result of problems identified by the public. Notification occurs in the fourth quarter of the calendar year with sampling scheduled to begin in the next monitoring year.

DOMINION METALS DM - This is a sampling special study in southwest Virginia, sampling waters for mercury near the Dominion Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center and has been completed.

DAN RIVER DR - This is a sampling special study on the Dan River, Virginia, in response to the Duke Energy coal fly ash spill. Sampling under this study is discontinued in 2019 and transferred to routine monitoring.

ELIZABETH RIVER ER - Characterization of toxic contaminants and routine water quality.

FACILITY INSPECTION FI - Facility inspections are not specifically identified in the water quality monitoring strategy but are integral to determining compliance with discharge limits. Specific sample locations are not included in the monitoring plan. Only estimated numbers of samples for the purpose of calculating annual budgets are included. For more information on this program, please contact Roger Stewart.

FRESHWATER PROBABILISTIC FP - The freshwater probabilistic monitoring program covers the nontidal free-flowing waters of the state. The program is designed to answer the question of what is the overall water quality of the Commonwealth’s free-flowing streams.

FISH TISSUE FT - The recently re-started fish tissue program is focused on collecting data needed for development of PCB and mercury TMDLs, then to monitor remediation progress once an Implementation Plan is in place. Data is also required for assessing fish consumption designated uses in Integrated Assessment Report. Program has been scaled back and is now TMDL-focused, but fish advisory information will be developed as funding permits.

GROUNDWATER GW - The Ambient Groundwater Quality Monitoring Program is designed to characterize and monitor groundwater geochemical conditions throughout Virginia. It is a statewide, comprehensive groundwater sampling program that documents existing water chemistry. The result is a better understanding of geologic controls on natural groundwater quality and how the quality is affected by dynamic variables such as climate, land use, and groundwater withdrawals.

MERCURY HG - The mercury special study program is a result of a settlement between the Commonwealth and the responsible parties contributing to mercury contamination associated with the Waynesboro Dupont Plant. The settlement set forth a 100 year study to determine the fate, transport and effects of mercury contamination in the Shenandoah River, the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, the South River, the North River, and associated tributaries.

IMPLEMENTATION MONITORING IM - Post TMDL implementation monitoring to track the progress of TMDL efforts following installation of best management practices and other controls on pollution sources.

INCIDENT RESPONSE IR - Incident response samples are the same as pollution complaints, and are collected when a pollution event involves pollutants other than petroleum or petroleum products.

KEPONE KM - James River legacy Kepone monitoring in fish tissue and sediments as a result of improper handling and dumping of Kepone by Allied Signal Company and Life Sciences Product Company in Hopewell, Virginia during the 1960’s and 1970’s.

LAFAYETTE BACTERIA LB - Lafayette River bacteriological sampling program.

OBSERVED EFFECTS OE - The observed effects program identifies those waters which have been classified in the Integrated Assessment Report as not having enough information to make a determination of water quality, category 3C. Those stations with insufficient data for assessing and usually are those stations with small data sets during an assessment cycle that indicate a potential problem. These stations are considered carryover stations and will be sampled until sufficient data is available to determine the water quality conditions.

PROBABILISTIC AMBIENT PA - The PA program is an extension of the Freshwater Probabilistic where monthly sampling of routine AW parameters will be measured for one year at FP stations or within the stream reach. As of 2019 this study has been discontinued.

POLLUTION COMPLAINTS PC - Pollution complaints are special samples collected generally as a result of a petroleum spill.

POTOMAC EMBAYMENT PE - The Potomac Embayment study is targeted at the shallow waters of Pohick Creek (Pohick Bay & Gunston Cove) tidal embayments, Occoquan River (Belmont Bay), Dogue Creek, Neabsco Creek, Chopawamsic Creek, Quanitco Creek, Aquia Creek, and Potomac Creek using continuous monitoring.

PFIESTERIA MONITORING PF - The Virginia Department of Health has requested that DEQ reinitiate monitoring for the existence of Pfiesteria in tidal portions of the state. VDH is funding a portion of DEQ analytical costs to determine the extent and amount of Pfiesteria.

QUALITY CONTROL QA - The quality assurance program is a component of each of the individual programs and varies in the number and types of quality control samples produced. Generally between two and ten percent of the samples collected in the field have associated quality control samples. These include field replicate samples, field blanks and standard reference material.

REGIONAL BIOLOGICAL RB - The biological monitoring program targets stations to determine the health of the benthic macroinvertebrate community as a tool to detect water quality conditions. The methodology follows the U.S. EPA Rapid Bioassessment Protocol II and is described in section III.E.4. of the strategy.

RESERVOIR MONITORING RL - The reservoir monitoring program targets Virginia’s largest lakes and others by prioritizing the significance based on several criteria. Generally the largest lakes are sampled every year, and the others are sampled based on a rotating schedule. For this monitoring cycle 114 reservoirs will be sampled.

FISH DISEASE TASK FORCE SH - The Shenandoah River Fish Disease Task force has identified sampling efforts related to the intensive ongoing investigations into the cause, extent, and severity of the fish disease that is occurring in the Shenandoah Basin.

SPECIAL STUDIES SS - Special studies are identified by individual project plans and are generally specialized, intensively targeted monitoring efforts designed to answer specific hypothesis related to water quality conditions.

TMDL TM - Total maximum daily load monitoring stations are associated with the development of a TMDL implementation plan for segments listed on the 303(d) list of impaired waters (not meeting water quality standards for designated uses), which indicate the segments that need a cleanup plan.

TREND TR - Trend stations are those long-term stations sited for permanent monitoring for the purpose of detecting short-, medium- and long-term water quality trends for a wide variety of environmentally important water quality parameters.

THREATENED WATERS TW - Stations where there is insufficient data to fully characterize the water quality via the Integrated Assessment process.

The detailed monitoring plans are available by directing your request to Roger E. Stewart 804-698-4449,

Monitoring Information Available on the Web

Information on detailed station descriptions, special studies, parametric descriptions and the raw data are stored in the Comprehensive Environmental Data System Water Quality Monitoring (CEDS WQM) database application used by the DEQ to store and retrieve water quality information. Much of the data in CEDS WQM can be accessed at DEQ's Water Quality Monitoring Page.

Real-time water discharge measurements (flow and gauge height) at DEQ and U.S. Geological Survey gauging stations can be obtained at

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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